How Integrated Pest Management Can Protect Your Clothing Store

Here’s how integrated pest management can help protect the goods and reputation of your clothing store. Article written by Jenni Valery for MMPC.

Keeping Pests Out of Your Store with Integrated Pest Management

Integrated pest management (IPM) is a proven method of pest control that keeps our homes and businesses safe and sanitary. In this article, we’ll discuss how IPM can keep your clothing store free of pests.

Retail spaces and department stores are often subject to pest infestations, but many store owners and budding entrepreneurs aren’t well aware of this fact. Of 74,000+ boutique clothing stores operating in the US, many of those that opened recently failed to realize how much their goods are susceptible to pests like moths, bed bugs, and other insects.

If you plan to open or manage a clothing store, implementing IPM will prevent costly infestations from happening. After all, bugs won’t only damage the clothes you sell, they can also tarnish your reputation as a brand. As a business, the last thing you want is to be known as the store that sells pest-infested pieces.

What is Integrated Pest Management (IPM)?

Integrated pest management can be thought of as an umbrella term for strategies that reduce pest numbers to an acceptable threshold — if not eradicate pests completely.

Common methods of integrated pest management used in retail stores can be categorized as chemical, cultural, and physical/mechanical. Chemical methods exterminate pests using a variety of pesticides that are toxic to them. Cultural methods focus on changing certain behaviors and training employees to inspect and recognize early signs of an infestation. Physical or mechanical methods modify physical factors in the environment to prevent pest problems, such as removing clutter and sealing up entry points.

Unlike traditional pest control methods used by exterminators, integrated pest management prioritizes long-term solutions, through prevention and eco-friendly approaches, that address the root of pest problems. Pesticides and chemicals are only used as a last resort.

What Types of Pests Can Damage Clothing?

Pests can damage clothes by creating holes, causing discoloration, and degrading fabric. Common pests that attack garments include clothes moths, carpet beetles, and silverfish.

Clothes moths typically come in two species: the clothes webbing moth and the casemaking clothes moth. Although adult moths are not a threat, their larvae will damage clothing as they consume keratin. Keratin is a protein that can be found in animal-based materials like wool, fur, feather, leather, lint, mohair, and silk. In a similar fashion, the larvae of carpet beetles can also damage clothes and hang around your store for up to a year.

Another kind of pest that you wouldn’t want near your goods are silverfish. These insects eat the surface of textiles, leaving clothing with a shaved appearance. They can also create irregular-looking holes and leave small, yellow stains.

Other Types of Pests That Infest Clothing Stores

Aside from insects directly damage clothes, other types of pests can also infest your store. For example, rodents can destroy your precious inventory and easily frighten customers. German cockroaches are very resilient and are capable of growing in large numbers rapidly. And different kinds of flies can carry and spread harmful pathogens.

Due to unavoidable factors such as frequently opened doors, cluttered storage areas, and constant foot traffic, these pests can easily find their way into your clothing store if you don’t have a reliable IPM program in place.

How Can Integrated Pest Management Keep Pests Away?

There are a lot of ways that integrated pest management can protect your clothing store from pests. A good place to start is scheduling regular visual and/or canine inspections from a reputable pest control company to check for pests and their hiding places.

You can also install barriers such as door sweeps and seal up cracks and crevices along walls and baseboards to eliminate entry points for pests, stopping them from coming into your store.

In some instances, certain plants or materials that attract pests should be removed, and any plumbing issues, leaks, or areas with standing water should be addressed.

IPM programs can also include training programs that educate staff about preventing or reducing pest problems through practices like proper waste management.

How to Choose an Integrated Pest Management Provider

If you’re unfamiliar with pest control and how the provision of such services work, it’s best to get a company that can offer consultations and project management services. You’ll be able to discuss with them the issues you want to prevent, as well as any problems you might already have.

It’s also a good idea to get services from a company that provides specimen identification and onsite assessments to help you figure out the root cause of your pest problem.

There are a growing number of pest control companies that provide integrated pest management services. It’s important to take time to get to know the companies or professionals that you are considering. At MMPC, we’re proud to be one of the first pest control companies to offer integrated pest management solutions in New York City and the Tri-State Area.

How to Maintain a Pest-Free Store

As a part of the integrated pest management process, you have to take regular measures to maintain a pest-free environment.

You can do this by inspecting incoming and returned goods, vacuuming nooks and crannies at least once a day, and keeping your entire collection — as well as the whole store — clean. If an infestation happens, isolate and remove damaged clothing to avoid spreading the insects and their larvae.

After you find a reliable integrated pest management professional to help you with inspections and proofing, remember to do your part by internalizing certain practices and keeping your store clean and free of clutter.

When addressed properly and early on, pests can easily be the least of your worries.